NICE - Digital innovation

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been developing a collaborative space for research and development to help create new methods and processes for health technology assessments.

It is a key duty for NICE to keep ahead of these developments to make sure patients gain rapid access to the most promising, cutting-edge treatments. NICE have taken a number of measures to address this, including developing a proportionate approach to technology appraisals to increase the capacity.

NICE are also developing a new collaborative space for research and development – called the Health Technology Assessment innovation Laboratory (HTA Lab).

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Using collaborative and innovative approaches, the HTA Lab will enable NICE to work with its stakeholders to develop solutions to complex HTA issues, such as disruptive new health technologies and broader methods, process and policy issues. It will help drive solutions to current and future health challenges –taking innovation from the lab and into practice.

The HTA Lab will use a ‘sandbox’ approach to developing solutions to complex HTA problems.

A sandbox approach means options can be explored that may not fit within existing practices, but that have the potential for significant benefits if adopted as standard practice.

The sandbox concept pioneered in the financial sector as a way of providing a safe space for businesses to push the boundaries and innovate on new products and ways of working.

Through the European Horizon 2020 HTx project, NICE has already made a major contribution to applying a ‘sandbox’ approach to HTA, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.

NICE will continue to apply its experience to the HTA Lab – using the sandbox as a development and testing environment that allows collaboration with stakeholders to trial new methods, processes and policies.

HTA Lab does not replace NICE’s formal arrangements for adopting new methods and processes. It offers a new way of harnessing the ideas and creativity of its stakeholder community in solving complex HTA issues.

The first project that the HTA Lab will undertake is developing and piloting a framework for rapid entry to managed access.

The aim is to develop efficient and timely processes prior to suitable products entering managed access arrangements, which will help provide patients with access to financially sustainable, important medicines while the evidence of their effectiveness is still emerging.

When developing the framework, NICE will need to consider how it successfully interacts with the Cancer Drugs Fund and Innovative Medicines Fund.

The HTA Lab presents an exciting opportunity for NICE, and its stakeholder community. Through a process of co-creation, it will help to produce useful and useable solutions to complex HTA issues, enabling access to the treatments that provide the greatest benefits for patients.

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